Dish with the Arms of Bishop Johannes Miraeus

One item in the inventory is described as "a French majolica dish with the arms of the deceased bishop Mireus" (een Frans geleyers schotel met wapen van de overleden bisschop Mireus). Jean le Mire (a.k.a. Johannes Miraeus) was born in 1560, and served as bishop of Antwerp from 1604 until his death in 1611. His secretary and nephew, Aubertus Miraeus (1573-1640), was a student and the biographer of the great humanist Justus Lipsius (1547-1606) and also served as the librarian of the city's seminary, founded by Bishop Miraeus and intended for the education of the secular clergy. It is perhaps not surprising that the Ximenez-da Vega family, members of the same elite circles as these humanist luminaries, would have owned a dish with the arms of Miraeus.

The Miraeus dish is the only ceramic item that appears with a specific description of its decoration; however, it is not clear exactly what this dish might have looked like. In the late sixteenth century, tin-glazed wares were produced throughout Italy and the Netherlands and increasingly in England, but the French centers of production generally date from a later period. The dish may perhaps have resembled an early seventeenth-century Dutch example of a multi-colored majolica plate, pictured here, with the words Eert God ("Honor God").

Anne Gerritsen, University of Warwick


De Ridder, C. B. Aubert le Mire, sa vie, ses écrits: Mémoire historique et critique. Brussels: Hayez, 1863.

Multi-colored majolica plate with heraldic device and the words "Eert God," Dutch, 1615-1630, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Image: © Rijksmuseum.